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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie is a satire of high school life, told from several points of view. While a teacher who is very flawed expresses to an ambitious student the idea that there's a lot more to life than winning at all costs, this advice isn't taken to heart. The definition of "morals versus ethics" is a classroom discussion, and serves as an underlying theme. The antagonist is an obnoxious overachiever, but there's talk of how one of her motivations for succeeding is rooted in not having things handed to her, unlike (the way she sees it) the wealthier students of her school. All the main characters suffer the consequences of their negative behaviors, and there's a sense of the characters learning from their mistakes, or at least acknowledging that there were lessons learned.
Positive Role Models
Pretty much everyone in the film serves as a negative role model. Characters are driven to unethical acts by greed, jealousy, and lust. This film makes it difficult to divide characters into "good" and "bad." Even the "good" characters make choices that throw their status into question.
Violence & Scariness
Humorous skiing accident and bee sting incident.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student; when discussing the relationship, the teacher tells his friend about the wetness of her "p---y." Main character shown having sex with his wife (no nudity), with images of another woman as well as a student in the high school where he teaches moaning with pleasure while making sexual comments, including "f--k." Main character stares at the rear end and cleavage of a woman with whom he will have brief affair. Main character watches a porn movie in his basement -- a scene from it is shown in which a football player and cheerleader are heard having sex and seen (no nudity, close-up of the looks on their faces). Teen girl shown performing oral sex on a teen boy, no nudity but gestures and character voice-over confirm the act. Two teen girls kiss passionately in bed. Deliberate close-up of a penis shortly after revealed to be part of a mannequin in a museum of a Cro-Magnon man.
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"F--k," "c--t," "s--t," "p---y," "bitch," "dyke." A student's catchphrase is "eat me." Talk of penis size.
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Products & Purchases
Coke and Pepsi placement.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink beer at parties. Teens and adults smoke cigarettes. Teen shown smoking marijuana in the school restroom. A mother gives her daughter a pill from her prescription medication bottle.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Election is a 1999 satirical comedy set in a Midwest high school and based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. Almost everyone in this dark comedy engages in extremely iffy behavior, including teachers who have very inappropriate relationships with students. Much of the comedy is rooted in the lack of self-awareness of these characters as they all engage in questionable behavior -- everything from statutory rape to extramarital affairs, from a teen girl giving a teen boy oral sex in his bedroom to the win-at-all-costs mindset, cheating by adults and students in a student council election, and drug and alcohol use among teens. The underlying theme is "morals vs ethics," and through the myriad faults of the characters and the consequences they suffer for these faults, the theme is explored. The movie also shows a closeted lesbian teen suffering her first heartbreak from a girl she thought she was in love with who tells her that she was just "experimenting." It includes frequent profanity, including "f--k" as well as "c--t" and the homophobic slur "dyke." Overall, this comedy is best for mature teens and older who are capable of seeing that the negative behavior on display is there to satirize what happens when those who are supposed to uphold the values they preach fail to do so when they think no one is watching. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Quirky and dark, ELECTION is one in a line of comedies directed by Alexander Payne (Citizen Ruth , About Schmidt , and Sideways ). Like his other contributions, this one combines fascinating character types, tragic life events, and dark humor to produce painfully poignant images of contemporary life. The film does a fine job of presenting high school through the jaded eyes of both teacher and student, while throwing in a selection of stereotypes for good measure.
A turning point in the careers of three of its main performers, Election transformed Broderick's career as he shed Ferris Bueller's sweater vest for the shirt and tie of the "man." Additionally, this film launched Witherspoon into A-list stardom and catapulted the career of Klein, whose portrayal of the lovable jock led to leading roles in such high-profile films as American Pie (1999) and American Pie 2 (2001) and We Were Soldiers (2002).
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.